During the first SUEUAA meeting at the University of Glasgow (December 18-20, 2017), the Partners involved in the project discussed the implementation of two benchmarking tools; one for higher education institutions, and one for city stakeholders in the context of learning cities. John Tibbitt, Deputy Chair of the PASCAL Observatory joined the delegates to discuss the importance of benchmarking and to present how the tools can be applied in different contexts.
The initial tool for higher education institutions ("HEIs") was developed for Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and was subsequently adapted and used in the PASCAL Universities Regional Engagement project (PURE). As the focus in this project was on regional development, partners in SUEUAA discussed significant ways in which the benchmarks need to be further adapted and expanded in line with the goals of our project. With a focus on urban engagement and the role of universities in city-level projects and processes, the tool was critically analysed and is currently being revised to reflect this scope.
The eight proposed domains, upon which we will evaluate the performance of various HEIs, gives us the basis for creating a comprehensive profile of urban engagement in the six cities represented in the project. Partners agreed that domains such as identity and culture, human capital and sustainability are very important indicators that will help create detailed profiles of their respective institutions. At the same time, they pointed out that the benchmarking tool needs to remain flexible and adaptable to each city-context. Instead of using the tool top-down, we therefore have adopted a flexible partnership model through which we continue to revise the domains. We have also created an open domain where the partners will add indicators to capture specific local challenges and current needs.